If you look through the majority of mock drafts on the internet at the moment, the Jets selecting Damian Williams is a popular choice. It makes sense, Sanchez's old target and a position of perceived need. I know wide receiver was not the popular choice for our first round selection when we did our initial draft outlook gaining just 13% of the vote, however there are a lot of things to like about Williams, and with 'experts' projecting him to the Jets he is worth looking at.
I have no problems with his game in general, I just don't believe that he projects as a first round talent, and most definitely not worth the Jets consideration while we have other needs on the team. Drafting is all about value at your position, and I find it hard to believe that we get the best value at 29 selecting Williams. NFL draft expert Todd McShay seems to agree
"I like Damian. I don’t think he’s a first round draft pick and I don’t think he’s a No. 1 starter. Maybe he develops into a No. 2, probably a No. 3. I think he’s perfectly suited as that No. 3 receiver in the NFL. He’s such a good route-runner, has such solid hands, loves playing the game and does so many of the little things right. I think he’s going to be a good player, but he’s not at that elite level."
He lists a lot of good qualities, and qualities that could help this team. A solid route runner, who has solid hands, he doesn't have the best straight line speed, and he won't burn too many defensive backs in the league. However for the intermediate and short slant routes Williams is a valuable commodity, can you find someone like that later in the draft? possibly in the form of someone like Jordan Shipley from Texas in the 2nd round?
2006 (Arkansas)- 19 receptions for 235 yards and 2 TD's
2007 (Transferred to USC, had to sit out 2007 season)
2008 (USC)- 58 receptions for 869 yards and 9 TD's (While Mark Sanchez was QB)
2009 (USC)- 70 receptions for 1010 yards and 6 TD's
Career Highlights & Accomplishments
- 2009 College Football Performance Awards Punt Returner Trophy recipient
- First-team All-Pac-10 (2009)
- 2008 Sophomore All-American Honorable Mention (CFN)
More after the Jump
So what does Williams do well?
He gets off the line quickly, has a nice initial burst, can change direction quickly and effortlessly, once he gets the ball in his hands he is elusive. He is intelligent with the football, keeps it away from contact, and can wiggle free of challenges to pick up valuable extra yards. The best route runner in the draft, uses his entire body to sell duke moves and double moves. Not a single route that is too complicated, and works them well in traffic especially through the middle of the field. Is a very patient receiver who allows the play to develop, can be very useful on screens, as he waits for the blocks to set and bursts through the open gap. His record is clean, not been involved in any off the field incidents and loves the game of football. A great team mate who is willing to work to improve. Would be a nice familiar addition for Sanchez, can work in the slot and attention to detail with gel well with Brian Schottenheimer.
What does Williams not do well, and what does he need to improve?
Like I mentioned earlier, Williams does not have elite speed, separation that he does get from his initial burst is closed quickly in college and will be closed even quicker in the NFL. Which means that Sanchez will be throwing into a small window which is obviously something that you would like to avoid after interception problems. Physical tools are pretty average, he stands at 6'1 and just 200lb's. Blocking skills need to improve, can get beat on the outside and recognition are not the best. Doesn't work well against press coverage, doesn't always enjoy getting physical with the defensive backs and can get pushed around a little too much. Doesn't leap very well, and can't be relied on to go up and get a ball, watches the ball into his body instead of catching it out in front of the body.
My final thoughts
I really like Williams as a receiver, as you can see from the highlight clips below, he is very polished. Few will argue that his crisp route running is a rarity for a USC receiver. He would be able to contribute straight away, catching the ball and returning it. I do have some concerns that his reluctance to put his full effort into the blocking game could hurt a team that relies on the run like we do. If there was any chance he dropped in the 2nd I would love to move up to get him although how possible that is I'm not entirely sure. As a first round prospect I don't think he gives us enough to consider him at 29. Shipley in my opinion is nearly as good as Williams and could possibly be had in the 2nd round. It would be good for Sanchez to have a familiar target, but just because they jelled in the USC system doesn't mean they will here. A great character who will work his butt off to succeed.
Would be disappointed if we took him but not devastated because he could do a lot of things to help this team and it's not often you find a player who runs routes as well as Williams does.
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